Any experiment that ends with an explosion is worth doing, so I can understand why Tech Photo Blog wanted to test a 150-year-old flash powder recipe against modern flash technology, even though it didn’t stand a chance.
The recipe they chose was composed of just magnesium and potassium chlorate, which was considered the cutting edge of photographic technology back in the 1860s. And while even just a small amount produced a considerable amount of illumination in their tests, the downsides to using explosive powder as a light source were many.
Not only did it produce thick clouds of smoke and spray flecks of burning metal all over the place, the powder also burned relatively slowly, making it a poor choice for photography where you wanted to freeze the action. It was also difficult to gauge just how bright the explosion would be for setting exposure levels. Although practice would probably give a photographer a good sense of just how much powder would be needed, and an opportunity to set off explosives again and again. [Tech Photo Blog via PetaPixel]